Emphasis Again on Safety at Weekend Races

This weekend’s races in New York City will again feature tightened security measures, so runners should get to the events on the early side, race officials are saying. The headline events for runners this weekend are the Verrazano Festival of Races, starting at 8 a.m. on Saturday at Shore Road Park Pier in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and the Run-as-One four miler taking place Sunday at 8:30 a.m. in Central Park. Another weekend option is the Run for Hope 5k run/walk, to be held in Prospect Park at 9 a.m. on Sunday.

PPTC’s very own Steve Lastoe, the founder and driving force behind NYCRUNS, the organizer of the Verrazano Festival, urged runners not to bring bags to the races, if at all possible. Organizers are “reserving the right to search bags (and will search oversize bags) and throw unattended baggage into the river,” he said in an email interview.

The Verrazano Festival features three races, a 5k and 10k, along with a half-marathon that is slated to start at 9:30 a.m. The races are sold out.

The Run-as-One race, organized by New York Road Runners, will have the same security procedures that were in effect for last weekend’s Run for the Parks, according to Skip Stiles, a NYRR representative. The increased focus on security comes in response to the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15.

“We are complying with the security measures put in place with the NYPD,” Stiles said. The Run-as-One race is not sold out, and those still interested can sign up on site early Sunday morning. Over 8,000 runners participated in last year’s Run-as-One event.

Both Stiles and Lastoe indicated that tightened security measures will be in place for the foreseeable future, but did not go so far as to say they were “the new normal.”

Given the new security situation, a big logistical challenge is looming for NYRR, which recently decided to expand the field for the Brooklyn half-marathon in May. Last year, just over 14,000 runners completed the route, stretching from the Botanical Gardens to the Coney Island boardwalk. This year, according to Stiles, the race could have upwards of 25,000 entrants, almost the same size as the Boston Marathon.

NYCRun’s Lastoe hopes to take the very popular Brooklyn Marathon out of Prospect Park and on to the streets of King’s County in the near future. He says he doesn't expect current security concerns to hinder those plans. He added that early indicators suggest most runners remain committed to organized racing.

“It’s a strong community. No one is running away,” he said.

Justin Burke